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Eazi Grip

Jake Gagne battles with Cameron Beaubier as both riders win a race a piece at MotoAmerica Atlanta

Saturday’s Race One

In a titanic battle that began with as many as seven riders fighting at the front and ended with three, Tytlers Cycle Racing’s Cameron Beaubier came out on top with a pass on Attack Performance Yamaha’s Jake Gagne with two laps to go in a thrilling Steel Commander Superbike season-opening race at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Saturday.

The win was the 60th Superbike victory of Beaubier’s career and it came with the five-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion biding his time and sitting behind Gagne and Wrench Motorcycles’ Bobby Fong for the last third of the race. Beaubier planned to make his move with three laps to go, but instead had to wait until the penultimate lap. He made the move and made it stick, beating three-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Gagne to the line by .240 of a second in what was his comeback race from the injuries he suffered last year at Pittsburgh International Race Complex.

For many, Fong was the surprise of the weekend with the Wrench Motorcycles Yamaha YZF-R1-mounted Fong earning pole position in the morning Q2 session, then running at the front for the duration and ending up third and just .332 of a second from race-winner Beaubier.

TopPro Racing Team’s Sean Dylan Kelly was an impressive fourth in his MotoAmerica Superbike debut. The Floridian was quick from the get-go and didn’t put a foot wrong – even as he battled in the heated pack at the front in the first portion of the race. Kelly was just 3.5 seconds behind Beaubier and .7 of a second ahead of Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati’s Josh Herrin.

Herrin was at the front of the Superbike pack early in the race, battling primarily with Fong for the top spot as the others hooked in behind the lead duo. Fong made a pass on the inside of Herrin early in the race, but it was the second time that he made the same move in the final corner that ended up going horribly wrong for Herrin. With the door open enough for his Yamaha to fit through, Fong made the move in the final corner and the result was Herrin running off the track on the exit.

By the time he rejoined the racetrack, Herrin was well back and forced to do an admirable job of moving forward again with passes on Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Richie Escalante, Tytlers Cycle Racing’s JD Beach, and Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati’s Loris Baz.

Herrin ended up fifth with Baz sixth, Beach seventh and Escalante eighth with the top eight separated by under six seconds. Real Steel Motorsports’ Hayden Gillim and Thrashed Bike Racing’s Max Flinders rounded out the top 10.

After crossing the finish line just .6 of a second apart, Baz and Escalante were involved in a big crash together at the end of the front straight after both crossed the finish line.

Two of the series stars had bad days with Brandon Paasch crashing his Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki out of the race after just two laps and Attack Performance Yamaha’s Cameron Petersen crashing, remounting, and finishing 15th to at least salvage a championship point. Petersen was running near the front when he was penalized two spots for passing under a waving yellow flag. After doing so, Petersen crashed but was able to remount and finish the race.

Quotes

Cameron Beaubier – Winner

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pretty over motorcycles after Pittsburgh. Sitting at home hurt, but all of us share this passion. Got motorcycles in our blood. A couple months go by and then you start getting hungry. The team posted the date for the first test and then you got something to work towards. Then after that, I was just itching to go racing. We got a couple good tests under our belt. Felt really good at the test. Made some good progress with the bike, with the Tytlers guys. Big hats off to them. They worked their butts off all off-season to elevate our game. Yesterday didn’t necessarily start out great, throwing the bike down the road in the second practice. But today was awesome. We didn’t make it easy, Jake (Gagne) either, on ourselves, starting on the second row of the grid, just with how stacked the field is right now. Like Jake said, it’s pretty awesome to race with all these guys. I was only two or three tenths off, and I was back in fifth in qualifying. That hasn’t been the case so much in the past years in MotoAmerica Superbike. So, it’s pretty cool. Just happy to be back and happy to feel healthy. Jake was setting a good pace up there in front. I think we were all kind of in management mode. The track was pretty greasy. We were sliding around. I feel like it would have been pretty risky to go any faster. I was just trying to bide my time. Bobby (Fong) was making it really difficult because he was so late on the brakes. I kept catching him on the back straightaway and had to roll out a little bit. I would catch him at the worst spot, going into the kink, and then he would brake super deep down into 10. So, I was kind of stuck there. I was just biding my time until the last few laps. I was able to make a couple good passes. Jake and I went back and forth that last lap and was able to bring it home. It’s a good feeling.”

Jake Gagne – Second Place

“Yeah, definitely. It was cool. Going into the race, starting second row, having fast guys in front, fast guys behind, it’s a whole different story than last couple years. I keep saying it, but there’s so much speed in this Superbike class now. It’s pretty cool to be a part of. It was one of those days. All I wanted to do was get a clean start, but you never really know what kind of pace guys are going to have, especially that second half. I was actually kind of surprised. I wasn’t sure. Bob (Fong) passed (Josh) Herrin. He went off and then Bob ran a little wide and then I was in the lead. I wasn’t sure who was behind me, honestly. I knew Bobby was there. I figured Cam (Beaubier) was there. But I think it was pretty slick out there. The Dunlops held up well with the heat of the track. This place gets really greasy. I’m happy. The bike was working really, really good. Kind of like last year, I was just struggling with such bad arm pump half the race. I just felt like a sitting duck. Just shows you how good this Yamaha is working. It was a fun race. I knew somebody was going to try to pass me. Second-to-last lap, Cam came up the inside somewhere. We went back and forth a couple of times. It was a good race and a good way to start the year.”

Superbike Race One

  1. Cameron Beaubier (BMW)
  2. Jake Gagne (Yamaha)
  3. Bobby Fong (Yamaha)
  4. Sean Dylan Kelly (Yamaha)
  5. Josh Herrin (Ducati)
  6. Loris Baz (Ducati)
  7. JD Beach (BMW)
  8. Richie Escalante (Suzuki)
  9. Hayden Gillim (Honda)
  10. Max Flinders (Yamaha)

Sunday’s Race Two

Attack Performance Yamaha’s Jake Gagne turned the tables on the Steel Commander Superbike field on Sunday at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta with the three-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion withstanding the constant pressure applied by the Tytlers Cycle Racing duo of Cameron Beaubier and JD Beach to take his first win of the season.

On Saturday, it was Beaubier winning the first race of the new season at Road Atlanta with Gagne right on his tail. On Sunday, the positions changed with Beaubier unable to find a way past the Yamaha on the final lap. Gagne’s margin of victory over Beaubier was just .119 of a second.

For Gagne the win was the 41st AMA Superbike win of his career, and it came in dicey conditions with the entire field on full rain tires after wet weather lashed down on the track in Braselton for most of the day.

Third place went to an emotional Cameron Petersen with the South African getting on the podium after a difficult off-season rehabbing from surgery on his badly broken right wrist. There were times when Petersen wasn’t certain that his career would continue so the emotion of racing again and finishing on the podium was overwhelming.

Beach ended up fourth after reeling in Gagne and then battling with and leading the defending champion prior to a high-speed crash and slide through the wet grass in Road Atlanta’s iconic esses. Beach was quickly on his feet and running to his bike, which was on the other side of the track. He got the bike restarted and turned in the right direction and was back on the attack, eventually working his way up to fourth place.

Fifth went to Superbike class rookie Sean Dylan Kelly, giving the Floridian fourth- and fifth-place finishes in his debut in MotoAmerica’s premier class on the TopPro Racing BMW.

Real Steel Motorsports’ Hayden Gillim recovered from an off-track excursion to finish sixth, some 10 seconds behind Kelly and ahead of Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati’s Loris Baz with the Frenchman still hurting from his Saturday crash.

Visit Indiana/Tom Wood Powersports’ Nolan Lamkin, Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati’s Josh Herrin and Wrench Motorcycles Bobby Fong rounded out the top 10.

After the opening two races in the championship, Gagne and Beaubier are tied with 45 points apiece. Kelly is third with 24 points, two ahead of Fong and Beach who are tied on 22 points.

Jake Gagne – Winner

“Like these guys said, this morning’s warmup was crazy. It was almost at the point where there was a lot of standing water. So, I was able to get some good laps, but I think all of us had a little bit of a sketchy feeling. I think we knew going into the race here, it was nicely wet and no big puddles to worry about hydroplaning and all that. So, that was good. Got off to a really good start. I don’t remember when I got in the lead, but I think pretty early on. Then I felt really comfortable right away. I think I had a little gap for a couple laps, or five laps or something. Then I started getting reeled in. I could see pit boards flying. I could see Cam’s (Beaubier) and JD’s (Beach) pit boards, so I knew it was those guys coming at that point. Like Cam said, it was a fine line. I was going back and forth between pushing when I could but also no matter what, the most important thing was to get on the podium even if these guys wanted to push harder than me. I got lucky. Really lucky there when JD was in the lead. He was ready to take off. That’s when I had to push my hardest. Then he got screwed by that lapper. I went up the inside. So, it was a bummer for him because JD was riding really, really good. From then on, I think I was in the lead, and I knew Cam was right there. I didn’t know if it was Cam or JD, actually. Just tried to be smart on the last lap. I was kind of parking it in some of those turns. Going down into 10A I was really tight and kind of ran wide. I knew Cam was going to try to maybe square me up, but I just parked it in that second-to-last turn and kind of squared it up. So, he would have had to go around the outside if anything. But it’s good. Like I said, it was a really mentally tough race because we all wanted to push, but at the same time it was going to be really easy to throw it away. A podium would have been the most important, but we got a win so it’s awesome.

Cameron Beaubier – Second Place

“To be honest, I was pretty timid the first couple laps. I was pretty nervous going into that race just with the conditions. That was only my second time out on the BMW in the wet. I didn’t have the best feeling this morning. JD (Beach) came around me like I was standing still in the first section. He was ripping this morning. Made a couple TC changes just as the track was drying up a little bit. I really felt good. I felt so good there in the middle of the race when I was making my charge back. I was definitely taking some chances. I was kind of going back and forth in my head. I was like, ‘man, I feel good, like I’m catching these guys.’ But I was having a couple moments here and there. It seemed like once I caught up to JD and Jake (Gagne), it seemed like they started going faster. Especially when we got tangled up with those lappers a little bit. Jake got a little bit of a gap, and he was going. It seemed like that was the fastest part of his race. Towards the end, I would have really had to take a big risk to try to get him somewhere on the brakes. He did a super good job in the last section holding his line or blocking his line. He brought it home today. I’m stoked to have a 1-2 finish this weekend and start the season off strong. Looking forward to Barber.”

Cameron Petersen – Third Place

“Not a lot of people really know what I’ve gone through the last nine months. Even a month ago, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to make it through a race. It just feels really good to be back up here. Made the right decision with the surgery. Obviously, the people in my corner just really put the work in and made sure I was here, and in the right way. Tough day yesterday. First race back, after everything I’ve been through to come back and do that. But there was a lot of positives to take away from yesterday. I was kind of able to run the pace, and when I dropped back, I was able to close back into the front guys. It was unfortunate with the yellow flag. I don’t think one of us up here actually saw the yellow flag. It was just in a really shi**y position. So, when I had to drop back the two spots, it put me behind (Loris) Baz. I almost ran into the back of him going into turn two there. Today, great to get a podium. I had such a bad feeling this morning in the wet. The first three, four laps out there, I was dog slow. Then I kind of started to get into my rhythm and feel things out. Got a little bit lucky with some guys going down, but I’ll take it.”

Superbike Race Two

  1. Jake Gagne (Yamaha)
  2. Cameron Beaubier (BMW)
  3. Cameron Petersen (Yamaha)
  4. JD Beach (BMW)
  5. Sean Dylan Kelly (BMW)
  6. Hayden Gillim (Honda)
  7. Loris Baz (Ducati)
  8. Nolan Lamkin (BMW)
  9. Josh Herrin (Ducati)
  10. Bobby Fong (Yamaha)

Posted on Monday, April 22nd, 2024 in News

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